It’s a done deal: Jack Griffin will succeed Ann Moore as chairman and CEO of Time Inc.
Jeff Bewkes, chairman/CEO of Time Inc. parent Time Warner, confirmed the appointment Aug. 9.
In a statement, Bewkes called Griffin (shown) “an exceptional executive who knows how to expand the reach and relevance of strong publishing brands, and he will be a champion of our high-quality journalism. As CEO, Jack will further advance our lead position in the industry and accelerate the expansion and innovation of our titles on all platforms.”
The changing of the guard was reported last week, shortly after Griffin stepped down from Meredith Corp., where he was president of its National Media Group.
While he won’t officially start until the end of September, Griffin was expected to spend the day at the Time building, meeting with select higher-ups and lunching with Moore. He’ll initially be CEO, then add the chairman role when Moore, who was with the company 32 years, retires at the end of a transition period of undetermined length.
The appointment of Griffin suggests Time will increasingly shift away from a traditional ad page sales model to a marketing services-driven one -- applying the strategy Griffin honed at Meredith and one that’s become widely admired and increasingly emulated by other magazine industry players.
Hearst, for one, recently acquired digital marketing firm iCrossing, while Condé Nast has declared it would focus its business around consumer- and digital-driven revenue.
At Meredith, Griffin led the creation of Meredith 360, a marketing services unit, recognizing a demand by advertisers for a more holistic approach to marketing. He also led an expansion of Meredith’s digital marketing capabilities by acquiring a string of interactive firms.
Griffin also played a role in helping Meredith buy and integrate Gruner + Jahr USA, whose publications Parents, Family Circle and others aimed at younger women rounded out Meredith’s traditional women’s service magazines like Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal.
Q&A WITH JACK GRIFFIN:
Mediaweek: You’re leaving Meredith after pulling off record results there. What attracted you to Time Inc.?
Griffin: This is an amazing company with amazing brands and people, inside a company [Time Warner] that is navigating the landscape extremely well, with an explicit emphasis on creating excellent products and a focus on the consumer. Time Inc. has the biggest stable of brands in the business and relationships with 100 million consumers. I don’t think these opportunities come by all that often.
MW: You’re widely admired for changing the business model at Meredith to increase its reliance on digital and marketing services revenue. Could the same approach work at Time Inc.?
Griffin: Marketing services is what everybody is talking about. [At Meredith], it became clear that marketers wanted to be served by content companies on those levels, but a diversified revenue stream is one of the most important aspects of a viable business. We’ve all seen what’s happening with advertising. Time Inc. generates a huge amount of advertising. But there is a lot to be said for a business model that has a diverse revenue stream that insulates companies from cyclical downturns.
MW: Magazines are seeing some recovery this year, but it’s unclear if they’ll ever get back to their record level of 2007. Do you think print can grow in an increasingly digital media world?
Griffin: I am personally and professionally very enthusiastic about it. If you look around the media and marketing world, magazines have what everybody’s trying to get. We have the customer. The customer has opted in. They’re highly engaged in the content. What we haven’t done a very good job of as an industry is making explicit how powerful magazine advertising is around those dimensions. We’ve got to do a better job as an industry of making those facts explicit.
MW: Time Inc has been charging ahead with developing editions of its magazines for the iPad, while Meredith has been focusing on mobile. Given that their sales are tiny so far, what do you think the magazine industry’s priorities should be right now?
Griffin: The installed base of people with tablets that render magazines is still pretty small. [But] consumers have shown us they can and expect to pay. There’s this opportunity for magazines in the tablet world -- to leverage the heritage of magazines and embrace the capability tablets have to offer. The business model has to emerge.
MW: Next Issue Media, the e-reader consortium Meredith, Time Inc. and others are backing, has been quiet since it launched last fall. What’s happening at the consortium now, and is it still moving toward its goal of creating a digital newsstand for magazines?
Griffin: There’s a lot of exciting work over there. It has a new CEO [Morgan Guenther]. It’s pressing forward with its goal to have a store up by the end of the year. It’s a very important part of the way magazine companies are going to be successful in the tablet environment.
MW: You’re incoming chairman of the MPA. Is having “magazine” part of the name an anachronism, given the increasingly focus on brand rather than the medium?
Griffin: This past year we’ve been working assiduously on some very exciting initiatives around identity that will be unveiled at the annual conference in October. [The summer’s] leadership changes, MPA work...it’s a very positive and hopeful time to leverage the strengths of our industry.